After my first baby came home, I tried to keep working my modest, 16-hour, online job. After three days, I not only quit, I found colleagues to fill in for me during what would have been my 2-week notice. It took me a year to get back to working–even part-time–again.
Even so, I had neither given birth (my kids are adopted) nor was my job a particularly physically draining one (teaching). So my mind boggles at the task before WNBA’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player, Candace Parker. After giving birth to her first child, Lailaa, on May 13, she will be returning to the game by July 29, when her team, the Los Angeles Sparks, play Chicago in Parker’s hometown of same. Her husband, also a basketball player–Sheldon Williams of the Minnesota Timberwolves–is quick to support both her motherhood and her game, defending his wife’s recent absence from a supportive bench role at a game, because her new baby was having a fussy reaction to her first set of vaccinations. “Obviously it’s natural for the mother to be with the child when the child is in distress” he said, but insisted that such issues would not interfere with Parker’s ability to play well, once back on the court.
With dozens of other mothers in the WNBA, Parker has lots of supportive role models to draw on. She is, however, the first player to choose motherhood while at the height of her career. Rather than playing first and having a baby later, Parker insists she can do both well. “I’m always the type of person who wants to prove people wrong,” she says. “I just want to come back and show that you can be even stronger than before.”
I for one, will be cheering her on!